Friday 18 August 2017

Elaine's dad: 'This is our life sentence. For us there is no parole'

Convicted killer Graham Dwyer has been jailed for the murder of Elaine O'Hara

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

THE family of Elaine O'Hara has revealed that they will probably never know what happened to their beloved daughter and sister as her killer Graham Dwyer was jailed for life.

Her father Frank O'Hara and his children paid tribute to the intelligent, hard working 36-year-old, who loved children, held down two jobs and was awarded a BA in Montessori teaching after her harrowing murder.

Elaine O Hara's father Frank pictured with his partner Sheila Hawkins at the Courts of Criminal Justice yesterday. Photo: Frank McGrath
Elaine O Hara's father Frank pictured with his partner Sheila Hawkins at the Courts of Criminal Justice yesterday. Photo: Frank McGrath
Graham Dwyer

In a victim impact statement the family said it had been distressing to see Ms O'Hara's private life laid bare before the nation and heartbreaking to hear the texts she received from a "depraved and diseased mind".

"We have lost a daughter, a sister and a friend int he most brutal, traumatic and horrifying manner," they said in the statement, read into the record at Dublin's Central Criminal Court by prosecuting barrister Sean Guerin.

Dwyer showed no emotion as the O'Hara family members revealed they have many unanswered questions that trouble them.

"When did Elaine realise it was not a game anymore?," the family asked.

"When did she realise that the intention was to kill her for real?

"Did she try to run away?

"Was she restrained?

"Did she suffer much?

Elaine O’Hara
Elaine O’Hara
Elaine O'Hara

"Could she and did she cry out?

"Was she left on the mountain to die alone?

"This is our life sentence," it concluded.

"For us there is no parole."

Judge Hunt said there was only one person who knows the answer to the family's remaining questions and he - Dwyer - has told "manifest untruths".

Last month 42-year-old Dwyer, an architect from Kerrymount Close, Foxrock, Dublin, was found guilty of murdering childcare worker Ms O’Hara.

Read more: Elaine's dad: 'This is our life sentence. For us there is no parole'

Dwyer had lured Ms O’Hara to her death just hours after she was discharged from a mental health hospital to fulfil his own sexual gratification and sick lust for letting blood.

Trial judge Tony Hunt had adjourned Dwyer’s automatic life sentence to today so the O’Hara family could prepare the victim impact statement.

Graham Dwyer who has been found guilty of murdering a mentally ill childcare worker in Ireland
Graham Dwyer who has been found guilty of murdering a mentally ill childcare worker in Ireland
Graham Dwyer

"Words cannot adequately describe how we are feeling and we would never want any other family to go through what we have endured over the past two and a half years," they said.

"We have lost a daughter, a sister and a friend in the most brutal, traumatic and horrifying manner.

"We also have many unanswered questions which we will have to carry with us for the rest of our lives.

"Elaine was a very intelligent girl, who never fully realised her potential due to her psychological difficulties.

"She was prescribed a lot of medication and this did have an impact on her ability to be a regular teenager, particularly socially.

"She was emotionally immature and very trusting of anyone who showed her kindness."

Sympathising with the O’Hara family, Judge Hunt said they had conducted themselves with great dignity and composure throughout what he described was a lengthy, harrowing trial.

“I hope they at least have some answers and insight of how their daughter and sibling was taken from them,” he said.

“There’s some very dark corners of this very dark story in to which some light has been shone.

“Of course there’s a list of questions that jump off the page... there’s only one person who knows the truth.

“That person has done nothing but tell manifest mistruths to date and unfortunately the answer to those questions will probably never be known.”

The judge described Ms O’Hara as an ordinary person with difficulties and who just wanted someone to care for her so she would not be lonely.

“She was no different than anybody else in that respect,” said Judge Hunt.

“It’s my view that during her life she was simply abused and misused by Mr Dwyer to the extent that he was responsible for ending her life as part of that prolonged campaign of misuse and abuse.

“It is actually worse than that as her suicidality had continued to be cynically used and misused by Mr Dwyer after her death in an attempt to slither out from under his responsibilities.”

Dwyer did not react throughout the hearing, which lasted more than an hour, but bowed his head when the judge made references to his wife Gemma giving evidence.

The judge said she had been 'cynically misused and mislead' and 'cruelly deceived by his various actions and machinations'.

Judge Hunt said it had been a distressing afternoon to see the “pitiful position” she was left in by her husband, and the unenviable position of being left with two young children.

“It beggars belief. It hardly bears thinking about.”

He said evidence showed Dwyer had bought the 083 ‘Goroon’ phone which he “used to reinitiate this sexual relationship (with Elaine) at a time when his wife (Gemma) was just a short number of days before giving birth to their second child.

“Perhaps, that says everything you need to know about Mr Dwyer,” he judge added.

As the judge has handed down the mandatory life sentence, he said it is a sentence that Dwyer "richly deserves".

Judge Hunt told the jam packed courtroom that the public could be thankful that a very dangerous man was now out of the way, adding that he had no idea "what’s up" with Dwyer as no reports were ever carried out on him.

“He is in his place of arrogance and delusion and there’ll he stay for the life sentence that I’m committing him to in a moment,” he said.

“It’s now time to face responsibilities. He is committed to a sentence. A sentence he rightly deserves.”

“I point out the fact that no remorse of any kind has been expressed in this case, instead we have the bizarre spectacle of a convicted murderer releasing a press statement,” Judge Hunt continued.

“The statement more over makes no reference to principle injured parties. The deceased, her family or his own wife.

“That again perhaps is a penetrating shaft of light in to the mind of Mr Dwyer.”

Judge Hunt continued: “It’s difficult to look beyond the chilling and premeditated murder, execution almost, carried out after a protracted campaign of the most vile manipulation and abuse of a woman who was too weak to resist and who made the fatal mistake of trusting Mr Dwyer that we wasn’t going to go any further than he indicated on August 22.

“When you read the booklet of texts you want to cry out to her to stop and turn back. Of course it was must too late for that.

“So that is it,” added Judge Hunt.

“Life it is.”

Eleven of the jurors who convicted Dwyer of the murder returned to the Central Criminal Court for the sentencing.

The judge said he was surprised but delighted to see so many of them in court.

Dwyer will initially be remanded in Dublin’s Mountjoy prison for stabbing the 36-year-old to death in the Dublin mountains.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan today said her thoughts are with all the families affected by the murder of Elaine O'Hara.

"I think today is going to be, again, another very traumatic day for the O'Hara family and my thoughts are very much with them and with all of the families involved in that investigation."

The O'Hara family's statement in full reads:

"We know that we are not the only victims of this crime. We recognise that other families are suffering too and we feel for every other person affected.

"Words cannot adequately describe how we are feeling and we would never want any other family to go through what we have endured over the past two and a half years.

"We have lost a daughter, a sister and a friend in the most brutal, traumatic and horrifying manner.

"We also have many unanswered questions which we will have to carry with us for the rest of our lives.

"Elaine was a very intelligent girl, who never fully realised her potential due to her psychological difficulties.

"She was prescribed a lot of medication and this did have an impact on her ability to be a regular teenager, particularly socially.

"She was emotionally immature and very trusting of anyone who showed her kindness.

"In later years her medication was reduced, hospital stays became less common and she functioned more effectively. However, she had missed out on those important, formative teenage years.

"She had a strong worth ethic and loved working with children, as she could relate to them better than to adults.

"She was always there to help and assist others, giving lifts, covering shifts at work or collecting many of the items for the Christmas Fair at school.

"Elaine adored her niece who was also her goddaughter and loved reading, painting and playing with her. For months after she went missing, her goddaughter would point out cars that were like Elaine’s saying “There’s Elaine’s car”.

"We smiled and nodded – how can you explain something to a young child that we couldn’t understand ourselves?

"Since she left us, Elaine has two more nieces, but they will never know their aunt.

"Elaine’s ambition was to be a teacher and she was studying Montessori.

"In 2014, we collected a BA in Montessori education which was awarded to her in St Nicholas Montessori school. She would have been so happy and proud to stand up in her gown and hat to accept that degree herself after overcoming many obstacles to finally get the qualification she longed for, but unfortunately this was not to be.

"When Elaine went missing in August 2012 we were devastated.

"At that time she appeared to us to be progressing well in life. She had a new apartment, was studying and working in two jobs.

"She had a setback in July 2012, and was voluntarily admitted to hospital.

"However, on weekend release, she was in very good form and was looking forward to the future.

"The assumed suicide in August 2012 was a surprise to all the family but lack of evidence pointing to any other cause for her disappearance meant we reluctantly needed to accept that she had most likely taken her own life around Shanganagh.

"We spent many hours walking the shore from Blackrock to Bray searching for any sign of her. A year after her disappearance we laid flowers in the sea at Shanganagh in her memory and in an effort to find some closure for us as a family.

"Our attempt at closure was premature as when in September 2013 Elaine’s remains were discovered, the Garda investigation changed from that of a missing person to murder.

"This led to further anguish for the family as we now faced the imaginable horror of Elaine having been murdered.

"The trial has been an incredibly difficult experience.

"It was distressing to see Elaine’s private life laid bare before the nation, despite the fact that she was the victim.

"Some of the reporting in the print media was insulting to Elaine and deeply upsetting for the family. At times, Elaine’s life was relegated to a lurid headline in a newspaper.

"It was heartbreaking for us to listen to the texts Elaine received from a depraved and diseased mind. The manipulation of her vulnerability was apparent and when she tried to resist, she was reined back in.

"We can hear her voice in those texts, just wanting to be loved.

"Hearing the contents of the videos will haunt us forever.

"We were upset that the credibility of our evidence was questioned as throughout the two and a half years all we wanted was the truth and justice for Elaine.

"We will probably never know what happened in Killakee on Wednesday the 22nd of August 2012, but there are questions that trouble us.

"When did Elaine realise it was not a game anymore?

"When did she realise that the intention was to kill her for real?

"Did she try to run away?

"Was she restrained?

"Did she suffer much?

"Could she and did she cry out?

"Was she left on the mountain to die alone?

"This is OUR life sentence. For us there is no parole."

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